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India backs international support for Afghanistan | The Indian Express

Addressing a meeting of International Contact Group (ICG) on Afghanistan-Pakistan, attended by representatives from 53 countries, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Afghanistan was at a critical juncture and required support from international community. He said what faces that country was “not anymore intrinsic tribal differences” of ethnic divisions but “terrorism and armed opposition groups”. Stressing “terrorist groups and inspiration and support they get from outside Afghanistan must be contained”, Khurshid said there should not be lack of will to tackle terrorism and achievements of 12 years should not “go to waste”. Nothing justifies terrorism and “closest international cooperation” was required to defeat it…India will remain committed to Afghanistan even beyond 2014 which is critical year for many…. People may have many strategies (after the troop pullout) but one strategy India rejects is an exit strategy.” Later  US Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan Laurel Miller said the US has been consistently maintaining that Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) should be signed and the US strongly backs the peace process. “This agreement should be signed promptly,” she said. Laurel said delay in signing the pact would erode confidence of Afghan people and create uncertainty among the international community. “If the agreement is not signed promptly, we unfortunately will be in a position in which we will need to plan for the possibility of having no military presence in Afghanistan after 2014. That is not an outcome that we desire. We very strongly support peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and there is no genuine issue between us in terms of the objective,” she said. The US wanted BSA to be signed before the end of 2013, but President Hamid Karzai refused to ink the pact asking the US to first stop bombing Afghan houses during military operations and support meaningful talks with Taliban. Miller also said that though Afghan President wants the US to launch the peace process and bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, it was not very easy to do so. “Karzai has demanded in exchange for his signature on the agreement that the US deliver the Taliban to the peace table, that we create public launching of the peace talks between government of Afghanistan and Taliban. We would like to see public launching of the peace talks between the two parties. It is not simply the power and capability of the US to make that happen. Moreover, the Taliban publicly oppose the conclusion of the BSA,” she said. The Chairman of the ICG, Michel Koch, who is German government’s special envoy for Afghanistan, said the signing of the US-Afghan BSA will facilitate signing of similar agreement between Afghan government and NATO.
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